To undertake industrial research with the aim of developing a strategy, architecture and prototype for an innovative service designed to securely store and monitor electronic awards using blockchain technology

Qualification: MPhil

Department: School of Informatics

Application deadline: 9 March 2020

Start date: As soon as possible.


This project is a fully-funded one-year industrial MPhil in the University of Leicester's School of Informatics.

Academic supervisors

Industrial MPhil Research Project description

Project reference: MPhil LIH0169

In this exciting project, the industrial partner intend to build an innovative service designed to securely store and monitor electronic awards using blockchain technology.  Ultimately, the company product will give learners access to their own electronic awards so that they may share them with their appropriate peer groups, potential employers or education providers, while allowing the latter to verify the authenticity of the awards.

As a result of the MPhil research project the company will use the industrial research to:

  • Design and build a cryptographically secure blockchain service
  • Design and build a secure API to allow awards to be sent to and retrieved from the blockchain
  • Design and build a useable website which will allow learners to access their awards and to further share them

The Industrial MPhil student project will provide the postgraduate student with a fully funded industry-focused MPhil qualification, a chance to further their knowledge and research interests in blockchain, smart contract and app development, apply and expand their software engineering and coding skills, gain first-hand understanding and experience of collaborating with a company.   

The MPhil postgraduate student’s research project can be divided in to four different stages with attendant key deliverables:

Stage 1. Analytical assessment and scoping 

Rationale and definition of the project:

  • Extent and remits of the projects
  • Knowledge gap to be filled
  • Identification of what is out there in terms of technical solutions
  • Identification of functional and non-functional requirements for the service
  • Key deliverable: a requirements specification 

Stage 2. Development of proof of concept application 

  • Definition of an API
  • Identification/selection of solution technologies 
  • Development of basic blockchain technology and early prototype 
  • Conduction of usability and user experience evaluation studies to ensure interaction quality
  • Key deliverable: proof-of-concept prototype

Stage 3. Assessing the system with Exam Track Ltd 

  • Propose methodology and architecture to develop complete solution
  • Assessing the viability of the proposal with Exam Track Ltd and potential end-users
  • Key deliverable: Technical design document  

Stage 4. Future investigation and writing of Final Report 

  • Writing of Final Report including recommendations and areas for further investigation and development for the company as part of MPhil Thesis 
  • The key deliverable: a synthesised report with recommendations for the company and an MPhil Thesis. 



This Industrial MPhil is funded by the University of Leicester’s Innovation Hub (which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund) and the sponsoring organisation, Exam Track Ltd. 

The MPhil funding is for 1 year only. 

  • The University of Leicester pays a monthly stipend of £1,166.67 in arrears to the student for 12 months, totalling £14,000. The funding will be strictly limited to twelve months
  • Tuition Fees at UK/EU rates for 12 months provided (£4,327 for entry in 2019/20 academic year)*

*International students are welcome to apply but, if successful, will need to be able to demonstrate they can pay the difference between UK/EU student fees and International student fees for the duration of their studies (the annual difference in fees for 2019/20 academic year is £15,603).

(University regulations: MPhil registration is a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 2 years).

Entry requirements

Entry requirements


  • You should have a Bachelor's degree of at least a UK 2.1 in Computer Science or a cognate discipline, with a significant element of Software Engineering and Coding Practice
  • Experience in working in a business environment is an advantage
  • University English language requirements apply

Required skills

  • Research, problem solving and academic networking
  • Experience in software and data modelling, testing and data analysis 
  • Experience in implementing prototypes in Java or other object-oriented languages
  • Basic knowledge of User-centred Design (UCD) approaches, especially in user-based evaluation study (usability testing)
  • Ability to build strong working relationships with core stakeholders (academics, sponsoring SME)

The Leicester Innovation Hub is part-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The MPhil student: must be a UK or EU (European Union) national*; have graduated within the last 3 years in a related discipline; adhere to project confidentiality; base their MPhil degree thesis on the research outcomes of the project; work closely with the SME company to undertake the research project; deliver monthly progress reports and a comprehensive project report to the University and sponsoring SME in addition to the MPhil thesis. 

*International students may apply if they can meet the additional funding requirements - see funding section above.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project and funding enquiries to:

Application enquiries to:

How to apply

How to apply

To apply please use the Apply button at the bottom of the page.  Select May 2020 as the entry point.

Please include:

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the project and why we should consider you together with all other relevant application documents
  • Copies of Degree Certificates and Transcripts or marks to date if study is not yet completed
  • Enter the contact details of two academic referees in the tabs provided within the Reference section or if you already have letters of reference from your referees enter upload the reference letters
  • In the Research Proposal Section' please state MPhil Project Ref 'LIH0169' and Supervisor 'Prof Heckel' in the space provided. A research proposal is not required
  • In the funding section of the application, please select 'Studentship' and in the dropdown menu, select 'ERDF MPhil project'

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview after the closing date.



UK/EU applicants.

International applicants will be considered if they are able to fund the difference between UK and International fees for the duration of study.

Any offer made will be conditional on contracts between University of Leicester, Industry Partner and student being agreed and signed.